Freddy Galvis Is Not the Solution

The proverbial hot stove hit its temperature apex yesterday with the New York Mets making a flurry of moves to bolster their bullpen, the ongoing negotiations between the Florida Marlins and Albert Pujols, and the plethora of trade rumors ricocheting off of the hotel walls in Dallas, Texas, the location of the winter meetings.

One player creating a lot of Phillies-related buzz is, of course, Jimmy Rollins. The free agent shortstop is seeking a five-year deal, something which correctly makes the Phillies’ brass flinch. As a result, the Phillies have attempted to look elsewhere for solutions, whether legitimately or as a means to increase their leverage. Rumors linked the Phillies to third baseman Aramis Ramirez and initial reports indicated that the Phillies were shopping Placido Polanco. With Jose Reyes off the market, the gap between Rollins and the next-best available shortstop is a veritable chasm, so it makes sense that they would attempt to make an improvement elsewhere, rather than settling for less.

A byproduct of trading away Polanco in favor of Ramirez or any other third baseman is that it very nearly relegates the Phillies to relying on Minor League shortstop Freddy Galvis. Galvis put himself on the map last year with a breakout season between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley, finishing with a composite OPS at .716 and a marked increase in power (.128 ISO with Reading, 50 points higher than his mark there in 2010). It was a nice change from his previous four seasons when he finished with an OPS below .600.

Although the league-average offensive output for shortstops is paltry (.688 OPS, .113 ISO last season), it is unlikely that Galvis would be able to produce enough to warrant the promotion. ZiPS, a projection system created by Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski), sees Galvis with an OPS+ of 77, meaning his OPS would be 23 percent lower than the league average after adjusting for park factors. In 2011, 25 different shortstops (min. 300 PA) equaled or exceeded that mark, while only six were found below. Additionally, while the 22-year-old’s defense is highly-regarded, it is still a work in progress and is unlikely to be elite if he were to be given the starting job out of spring training. ZiPS projects his defense merely as average.

Given the way the Phillies have handled Domonic Brown — delay, delay, delay — it doesn’t seem consistent that the team would rely on a 22-year-old rookie with just 126 plate appearances at the Triple-A level. Still, the thought is there and if Rollins continues to stick to his pursuit of a five-year contract, it becomes more and more of a possibility. When other options include using internal options like Wilson Valdez or making a trade for a hired gun such as Jason Bartlett, Galvis becomes more attractive by the day. And that’s just unfortunate for everyone involved.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: please come back, Jimmy.

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70 comments

  1. Rob SJ

    December 08, 2011 12:22 PM

    hk good point about Berkman, had not considered that. We shall see, the move may make some sense for them but obviously we don’t know how their front office views Rollins. We also don’t know if that money they were offering Pujols was really “in the budget” or did they make that offer because really they had to given Pujols’ history with the team. Moves seem to be coming fast and furious this week so maybe we’ll know soon.

  2. LTG

    December 08, 2011 12:57 PM

    Is it just me or do the 2012 Marlins resemble the 1997 Marlins? Buy up talent for a WS run and then sell it off when it turns out to be way too expensive. Of course, I’m not sure they will be able to sell it off in today’s climate.

  3. Rob SJ

    December 08, 2011 01:00 PM

    LTG – maybe but this time they seem to be far short of a WS run. Last year’s club did not seem to be a Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle short of contention. But who knows, if Johnson recovers and Ramieriz returns to form maybe they have something.

  4. Phillie697

    December 08, 2011 01:37 PM

    All I have to say, glad Pujols and Wilson are NOT in the NL East. For a moment there I was like, WTF is going on with this division? We have the Braves with pitching coming out of their ears, a Nats team that’s one slugger and a mid-rotation starter from truly scary, and a Marlins team determined to buy half of the MLB rosters. Thankfully, in the end, not much has changed.

    @Rob SJ,

    Have you considered that players dropped out precisely because the values being demanded are too high? If Rollins’ agent advertised, “we’ll sign a 3-year contract worth AAV of 10M, contact us if interested,” you don’t think 10 teams would jump on it? Yes Brewers dropped out and left the Phillies the only player, but I’m pretty sure a floor had already been established. Again, I’m hoping Rollins will give us a hometown discount. Crossing my fingers…

  5. Phillie697

    December 08, 2011 01:38 PM

    @LTG,

    Supposedly the Marlins owner has already addressed that issue and said this is not 1997.

  6. Rob SJ

    December 08, 2011 01:57 PM

    Phillie697 – there may be more teams involved at 3/30, but 3/40 is probably more realistic. I think if a team was willing to offer 3/40 they would have been involved already. We’ll see, all speculation. I don’t expect a discount, just don’t expect teams to be willing to go 4/5 years on an aging player who depends on speed. Crazier things have happened.

  7. C smit

    December 08, 2011 02:17 PM

    Rollins & UTLEY BEST DP COMBO IN NL ! Lets hope for jimmie!

  8. Dan K.

    December 08, 2011 02:31 PM

    St. Louis has said they want to go with Greene as their everyday SS, I believe. Now could they change their mind and go after Jimmy? Sure. But it’s not like another player could ever replace Pujols anyways, so I think any other free agent is just as likely as Rollins.

    Just speculation on my part, though.

  9. Phillie697

    December 08, 2011 02:36 PM

    @Rob SJ,

    bWAR has only 4 of his 35 runs above replacement last year from baserunning, and fWAR has his BsR at 0.1 last year. I think you grossly exaggerate Rollins value that’s derived off of his speed, and there is no proof that his excellent defense is purely because of speed. And if Rollins is going to sign for 3 years, you bet your ass he’s asking for more than 40. I would even be okay if the Phillies signed him to a 3/45 contract, but I think, based on the rumors that were flying around about 3 years with an optional 4th year and a buyout, I’m thinking it’s a 3/45 with a 15M 4th-year and a 5M buy-out. So he either gets 3/50 or 4/60. I think that’s something he’s probably willing to live with, and the Phillies would be slightly overpaying but under the circumstances acceptable imo.

  10. Rob SJ

    December 08, 2011 03:23 PM

    Phillie697 – in what way did I grossly exaggerate it? I said he relies on speed. He stole 30 bases last year. He plays a middle infield position which obviously relies on mobility. That’s not to say his defense is purely based on speed (taking proper angles, arm strength, hands are clearly critical) but if he can’t move as fast his range at SS clearly declines. I’m not sure what you’re objecting to – you think speed is not an important skill for him? I’m also confused by your comment refuting the suggestion of 3/30 since that was just my reaction to your suggestion in the prior post – that was your number.

  11. Phillie697

    December 08, 2011 03:33 PM

    @Rob SJ,

    The 3/30 was meant to be an absurd suggestion. Obviously you don’t read sarcasm well.

    My point is, Rollins was a 3.8 fWAR player and a 3.7 bWAR player, and neither had his stealing/baserunning as worth more than even 0.5 WAR. His value isn’t just because of his speed; far from it. My point is you have no proof that his value is because of his speed, other than personal opinion/conjecture.

  12. LTG

    December 08, 2011 03:40 PM

    To fill in what Phillie is suggesting concerning Rollins’s defense: his range might be a function of his positioning rather than his speed, which would limit the effect that a decline in speed would have on his defensive production.

  13. Rob SJ

    December 08, 2011 03:46 PM

    Yeah his positioning is a key to his defense, but seriously, you don’t know where the ball is going to be hit. You can guess based on experience and knowledge of the hitter/pitcher/situation, but that is only upping your odds of being in the right spot, it’s far from a guarantee. Being able to move fast is an important skill for a SS. I don’t need a stat to tell me that, I know it and so do you. As for not reading sarcasm well, I guess not, what was the clue that this was sarcasm?

  14. Phillie697

    December 08, 2011 03:52 PM

    “If Rollins’ agent advertised, ‘we’ll sign a 3-year contract worth AAV of 10M, contact us if interested,’ you don’t think 10 teams would jump on it?”

    Considering that the phrase started with an if and ended in a question, that might have been the clue.

    If his stats ALREADY show he’s starting to slow as far as his speed is concerned (hence the low value of his worth in speed-related stats), don’t you think his defense would already been affected? Yet he’s still a 3.7/3.8 WAR player. Again, I think you’re grossly exaggerating the value of his speed because “being able to move fast is an important skill for a SS. I don’t need a stat to tell me that, I know it and so do you.” And no, I don’t know it. Cal Ripken’s age 35 season, no steals, -2 runs due to baserunning according to BR, yet his UZR? 22, TotalZone? 22 runs saved. Speed isn’t everything.

  15. Rob SJ

    December 08, 2011 04:01 PM

    I’ll remember your super simple rule to identify sarcasm. Using this rule every question that starts with “if” is sarcasm – pretty broad. If I were to suggest that you are being deliberately argumentative about this speed question, would I be wrong? And trust me, I’m not being sarcastic there.

  16. Phillie697

    December 08, 2011 04:27 PM

    No I’m not being deliberately argumentative about the speed question, because I honestly do NOT share the same belief as you do that SS must have to have speed to play excellent defense.

  17. Rob SJ

    December 08, 2011 04:30 PM

    OK, we’ll agree to disagree.

  18. jauer

    December 08, 2011 04:43 PM

    “Yeah his positioning is a key to his defense, but seriously, you don’t know where the ball is going to be hit.”

    This is false. Infielders, especially those closest to the pitcher, can read the location of the pitch and the timing of the swing to get a jump on the ball. There is even a possibility that Rollins can read the sign from Ruiz to further assist the jump on a groundball. If the pitch is on the outside corner to a RHB, and the swing is late, then Rollins will be moving to his left before the bat even makes contact with the ball.

    On national broadcasts, you will sometimes (read: seldom) see an overhead angle of the pitcher, batter, and middle infielder. If they slow the replay enough, you can see the infielder breaking to his right/left before the batter even makes contact, simply because they know how to read the pitch/swing.

    Combine that with pre-pitch positioning, and also consider that a decrease in speed does not necessarily indicate a decrease in lateral movement, then it’s certainly a possibility Rollins’ defense will be fine over the course of a contract.

  19. JB Allen

    December 08, 2011 05:08 PM

    Read “Men at Work” by George Will. It’s been a while, but as I recall, his discussion of Cal Ripken’s glovework is fantastic. Ripken was big and slow (for a pre-steroids era shortstop), but fielded his position well because he studied the hitting tendencies of every batter his team faced.

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